Thomas Fezza

Biological Science Technician

 Contact Info 
E-mail: fezza [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Research Interests:

  • Integrated pest management
  • Biological control
  • Chemical ecology
  • Entomology

Research Overview

I am a biological science technician with USDA-APHIS located at the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center studying invasive fruit flies of economic importance, including melon fly Zeugodacus cucurbitae and oriental fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis. My research covers a wide range of duties including insect rearing and trapping, chemical ecology and behavioral bioassays. The goal of my graduate research is to increase the effectiveness of the male annihilation technique (MAT) and the sterile insect technique (SIT), which are often used to combat pestiferous species of tephritid fruit flies during invasions.


University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Hilo HI (2014)
  M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science
  Thesis: Epicuticular Hydrocarbons and their role in pheromonal communication in two species of Hawaiian Drosophila (D. heteroneura   and D. silvestris) and their F1 and backcross hybrids

State University of New York, College at Oneonta, Oneonta, NY (2012)
  B.S. in Biological Sciences, Field Biology and Ecology Concentration, minor in Chemistry

Research Experience

Biological Science Technician – USDA-ARS DKI, PBARC, Hilo, HI (March 2015 — Present)

  • Plans and executes lab and field experiments to assess control of invasive fruit flies
  • Conducts bioassays to evaluate the use of repellents and attractants
  • Use trapping, mark recapture and radio-tagging to determine habitat and control methods
  • Investigates tephritid fruit flies using molecular, chemical, physiological and behavioral assays

Entomology Research Technician — University of Hawaii, Hilo HI (May 2014 — March 2015)

  • Arthropod sampling, identification and collection, plot surveying and GIS mapping
  • Executing studies examining Hawaiian ecosystems
  • Developed and modified standard operating procedures for lab and field experiments

Graduate Research Assistant — University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Hilo HI (August 2012 — July 2014)

  • Conducted experiments on Hawaiian Drosophila using molecular, chemical and behavioral techniques


Fezza, TJ, Follett PA, Shelly TE (2021) Effect of the timing of pupal irradiation and the quality and sterility of oriental fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) for use in Sterile Insect Technique. Applied Entomology and Zoology

Shelly T, Kurashima R, Fezza T (2020) Field capture of male oriental fruit flies (Dipter: Tephritidae) in traps baited with solid dispensers containing varying amounts of methyl eugenol. Florida Entomologist 103(4): 516-518.

Fezza, T.J. and Shelly, T. E. 2020. Comparative lure response, dispersal, and survival of male melon flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) from wild and genetic sexing strain in Hawaii. Florida Entomologist 103(2): 253-258. URL:

Shelly, T, Kurashima R, Fezza T. 2020. Field evaluation of three-component solid food-based dispensers for monitoring Mediterranean and Oriental fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology 23(2020):825-831. doi:

Manoukis NC, Vargas RI, Carvalho L, Fezza TJ, Wilson S, Collier T, Shelly TS. 2019. A field test on the effectiveness of male annihilation technique against Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae) at varying application densities. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213337

Shelly, T, Kurashima R, Fezza T, Cook P, Cook D. 2019. Wafers in saddle bags: A novel dispensing system for male lures used to detect invasive fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 51(2):47-58.

Fezza, T. J., Geib, S. M., Shelly, T. E. 2018. Comparative rearing parameters for bisexual and genetic sexing strains of Zeugodacus cucurbitae and Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae) on an artificial diet. Journal of Asia- Pacific Entomology 21:283-287.

Fezza, T. J. and Shelly, T. E. 2018. Raspberry ketone-supplemented diet has no effect of fitness parameters or lure responsiveness in male melon flies, Zeugodacus cucurbitae (Diptera: Tephritidae). Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology 21:1384-1388.

Eller, F. J., Fezza, T. J., Carvalho, L. A., Jang, E. B., and Palmquist, D. E. 2015. Field Test for repellency of cedar wood oil and cedrol to little fire ants. Proceeding of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 47:71-77.